In the last blog entry, we established that if people aren’t reciprocating your friendship attempts, they may be otherwise preoccupied so you shouldn’t take it personally. They might be subconsciously saying, “it’s not you - it’s me.”
But what if it really is you? What if the reason you’re having a hard time making friends is because you keep accidentally sending the wrong signals?
First, ask yourself if you’re doing any of these blatant no-no’s:
- You don’t properly introduce yourself
- You seldom smile.
- You have some bad manners
- Your breath is offensive
- Your grooming is sloppy
- You ask personal questions too quickly instead of warming up with small talk
- You have a self-pity complex
- Even if the chemistry is wrong, you still try to push for a connection
- You judge people and pigeonhole them
- You’re preoccupied and not engaged in the moment
- You dump your emotional baggage before you’ve earned someone’s trust
- You share inappropriate personal details
- You talk about sad topics like death, health problems, or your crummy boss
- You talk about yourself too much and don’t show interest in the other person
- You don’t talk enough about yourself, leaving the other person with no sense of who you are
- You come across as a braggart by only talking about your accomplishments
Second, if things seem to go awry again and again for you, try to look for patterns.
- Do people typically lose interest at a certain point in your conversations (like when you start to go into too much detail about your work project or your geeky hobby)?
- Do you notice that they tend to pull back when you tell them sensitive personal information? Stop doing that - it's backfiring on you.
- Do certain types of people tend to pull away from you? Perhaps you have some bigoted attitudes you’re not aware of.
- Do you feel an icy chill come over your conversations when you start to spout controversial opinions? Keep it more neutral and reserve your venting for your closer friends.
If you can spot the root cause in a pattern and then adjust as needed, you’ll have learned a powerful skill. But that’s not an easy task given that we all have blind spots. That’s where a trusted third party can act like a coach. Ask them to shadow you as you socialize and then give you honest feedback about ways you can improve. And then _listen_ to their feedback without getting defensive.
And third, examine your overall state of mind and attitude. Don’t let these bad-boys continue to trip you up:
- Self-pity - I'm just doomed to failure due to forces beyond my control
- Self-centeredness – your world revolves around only your thoughts and interests
- Lack of respect for peoples’ boundaries and comfort zones.
These take more time and deeper reflection to identify and root out, but don’t despair. The fact that you’re reading through this shows your desire to grow. Give it time, don’t quit, and continue to get feedback from some trusted friends. They'll usually be more than happy to help you improve.
So be honest. Has it really been you from time to time? If so, what have you done to adjust your course?